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Private cloud: Strategy and tactics from the big boys

App repatriation – it's for winners

Two clouds, one hardware layer

From the hardware point of view, building and maintaining different cloud infrastructures is not as hard as you might think. Enterprises have been adopting standard building blocks (PODs) for a while now (I wrote about this a few days ago). And these PODs are based on commodity x86 servers, SDN-capable networking and scale-out, flash-based storage.

These infrastructure components are very similar to each other and they can be at the base of traditional virtualization infrastructures and private clouds at the same time. Yes, they have to be fully integrated (with VMware APIs and OpenStack Cinder), but this is a very common characteristic now. It’s also really interesting to note that we are not far away from a complete integration of all these hardware components and upper layers.

Looking at Coho Data, for example, it has a unique product architecture today that already brings seamless scale-out NFS storage thanks to SDN (and Arista switches.) I don’t think that it would take much to integrate those switches to also offer TOR networking, and the next step could be managing all the components as a whole from Neutron or NSX. Right?

By using standard building blocks it’s much easier to manage different cloud infrastructures. It’s also possible to start small and migrate resources from one cloud platform to another if needed; at the end of the day it’s just a different software stack. This helps to mitigate risks while protecting investments.

Closing the circle

At the end of the day IT organisations are looking for operational efficiency. Cloud gives efficiency and enables them to offer a better service, while private cloud also adds the benefit of sustainability in terms of cost. The number of organisations that can afford a multiple cloud strategy is limited, but this can add even more flexibility and freedom of choice for end users.

Thanks to the right components, the impact of hardware infrastructure could be minimised and can easily become the common denominator for all the different solutions. Today we are still seeing VMware dominating the data centre, but large organisations are starting to deploy OpenStack more and more.

An example? At the VMUG usercon, Sky UK declared that it has a 200+ node cluster in production with OpenStack. Not a small number considering that the same organisation has 5,000 servers in its data centres. ®


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